The characteristics of Dutch leadership I’ve noticed are sometimes useful and sometimes not – though the utility depends highly on the context, though some might not be useful irrespective of the context.
Empathy: Many of the Dutch I’ve encountered are highly empathetic leaders. They are easily able to interact with extremely important ‘high-level’ people and in the same manner relate to and care about their next door neighbour. This trait is what I believe drives Dutch leaders to successfully create global business model that respond to local needs.
No go engagement zone: Some leaders sit above the rest and somewhat subtly avoid engaging with the so-called ‘common folk’. I noticed this in companies where the CEO can singularly make decisions on cutting projects with absolutely no consultation with anyone else and there is no challenging/questioning their decision.
The need for consensus: A highly consensus based society results in several types of leadership traits; team leaders really engage all the voices in their teams, leaders are most modest and humble than at least the leaders I grew up learning from in North America, and there is generally more team spirit and cooperation.
The strong man: Irrespective of the value placed on building consensus, there are still many leaders suffering from the ‘strong man’ syndrome combined with being quite narrow minded. These are the leaders who are bullying others to have their leadership/ideology as the only one. It frustrates me to no end that there are few people with the backbone to stand up to Geert Wilders.
Verblijf in jouw spoor: Stay in your track. A lot of suspicion is aroused amongst Dutchies when you seem to be in multiple disciplines/tracks. The way this plays out in leadership is an inability for leaders to optimize across a system. Optimizing just in one area is not good enough and is in fact an ancient business model.
Innovative designers: I haven’t quite figured out what exactly it is that makes the Dutch some of the best designers in the world. My hunch is it has something to do with the fact that a huge portion of this country is actually under sea level. Perhaps this also combined with the Dutch history of having spent many years fighting off invading nations. There is this stubbornness that with the right kind of design, mankind can live in harmony with nature.
This is a start to my reflections – possibly more to come. What are your thoughts?
And here is a video summary of the event: